What’s one thing you can be sure of when walking into a job interview? That you’ll be asked at least one question that might throw you for a loop. You may have all of your answers rehearsed, but interviewers want to see you think on your feet, so they may toss unexpected interview questions your way in hopes of getting a candid response.

While this might sound intimidating, it isn’t a bad thing. Oddball questions are a great opportunity to how your personality and unique style of thinking to the interviewer. Use these tips for dealing with the unexpected during an interview.

Just Breathe

Instead of focusing on the specific questions your interviewer might ask, prepare yourself by remembering to speak slowly and remain calm. If this is your first interview, make sure you practice a few questions with a friend. Your body language can be very telling, so get comfortable appearing comfortable in stressful situations and you’ll come off much more composed than you may feel inside while answering an unexpected interview question.

Be Yourself

The entire purpose of an interview is to learn more about you, your skillset, your personality, and your character. If a question catches you off-guard, take a breath, and then answer honestly.

Prepare a few of your best stories that prove your creativity, so you have something to fall back on when a question is truly off-the-wall.

Overall, you shouldn’t feel like you’re hiding something from the interviewer, so be yourself!

Use Unexpected Interview Questions to Start a Conversation

Don’t save all your questions until the end of the interview! If you’re stumped, you can also ask the interviewer a question and start a conversation. As the dialogue progresses, you’ll find ways to incorporate your problem-solving experience, and you’ll showcase your ability to make others comfortable.

Take Your Time

Don’t feel the need to fill every moment with talking. It’s okay to simply pause to think. You might want to add, “Great question – let me think about that one,” and form a few thoughts. If you speak too quickly, you might not give your best answer.

Explain Your Thought Process When Answering Unexpected Interview Questions

If your short pause is turning into a longer break, consider explaining your thought process. Many times, interviewers ask difficult questions to learn how you might solve a specific problem, so voicing your thoughts will give them some insight.

Include transition words to guide them through your thoughts: “First, I would talk to this person,” “After submitting the report, I do this,” “My last step to wrap up a project includes this follow up,” etc.  Qualify the statements with “the process varies for each project,” and the hiring manager will understand the way you think a little better.

Pivot When You Don’t Have an Answer

What if the interviewer uses words you don’t understand? The first step is to ask for clarification and see if the explanation makes sense. If you’re still lost, let he or she know that while you’re unsure of the concept, you’re excited to learn about the industry in this role.

Honesty is always the best policy. No one knows everything, and the hiring manager would much rather you ask for clarification than respond with incoherent rambling.

Don’t forget – the interviewer is also a human. He or she is learning how you think on your feet and respond to pressure. As you move up the corporate ladder, you’ll experience more pressure from clients and more responsibility for those reporting to you. The hiring manager wants to make sure you’re the best fit.

Recruiting Experts Can Help You Prepare for the Unexpected

Interviews are already an intimidating part of the job-hunting process, so when the unexpected comes your way, it can really throw you for a loop. Fortunately, with a little preparation you can be ready for any challenge that comes your way in conversation.

A recruiter is a great partner for helping you prep for your next interview. Expert recruiters are very familiar with the kinds of questions you might face and can help you navigate the best way to respond so you’ll walk into the interview feeling fully prepared. Best of all, recruiters are already familiar with the hiring manager and his or her interview style, so you can go in fully prepared to wow your interviewer.

If you’re ready to get out there and start interviewing, turn to our staffing experts. We help candidates find the best roles to match their skills. Connect with us today to get started.

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